There’s a lot of respect in the do it yourself ethos and Alex G. is very deserving of that respect.
This album is hands down my favorite new release of this year. It is hard to do it justice with just a description so it is highly suggested for anyone who likes indie rock to go give this thirteen track album (plus two bonus tracks at the end) a thorough listening.
Alex Giannascoli is a college student in Philadelphia who gained his success through his bandcamp page. All of his music is written and recorded on his own and was overlooked for many months, but with a sound as unique and inspiring as it is, it was only a matter of time for this lo fi wonder to be discovered. All of the many aspects and layers of these bedroom recordings show just how talented this guy is. The vocals, the percussion, the melodies and harmonies from electric and acoustic guitars, the synths, and ultimately the superb songwriting are all done by this one 20-something-year-old. The only instrument he doesn’t play on this album is the tambourine. He might not be old and experienced but it does not show one bit.
Every track is diverse and offers a lot to listeners. The intro track, “After Ur Gone,” has a strange crash of sound for the first several seconds then swells into a basic rock structured four beats per measure. The guitar repeats a bubbling melody while the vocals tone it down with a subdued pitch. It flows into the next song, “Serpent is Lord,” which is slightly more experimental and a lot more minor. There is a beautiful piano tracking layered underneath fuzz and distortion from the guitar and an uncomplicated rhythm from his drum kit. The vocals and lyrics remain cathartic and empowering. “Harvey,” follows with a more melodic and accessible tune. This is the most popular track and possibly would have been the single if the album had been released differently. It is short and sweet with interesting lyrics and female backing vocals from Emily Yacina.
The album switches in sound while keeping the same lo-fi aesthetic and deep emotion. “Rejoyce” is an interesting track because Alex G. uses a pitch-shifter on his voice to add to the strangeness. The song ends with a looped track of synthesized distortion. That distorted noise is carried over to “Black Hair,” which also features some of the best lyrics: “It’s not what you are/ it’s just what you did.” Track 6, “Skipper,” has wavering guitars and a much softer and smoother sound than the rest of the album. It soothes the soul. “Axesteel” doesn’t necessarily pick up the pace because most of the album is at a slower pace but it does increase the noise level.
One really cool thing about this full length is how each song uses different elements to create the same flow. Such as with “Sorry,” which is more acoustic then the last seven tracks. The way his sound goes in and out of different scales keeps this low key album interesting. One thing that isn’t present during most of the album is a strong bass line, but don’t worry, “Promise” features a funky bass layer that wouldn’t seem to go with the rest of his sound but surprisingly compliments it perfectly. Track 10, “Icehead,” is somber and loving, and is another track where Alex changes the pitch of his voice. One of my favorite tracks is “Hollow.” “Hollow” is pure emotion. It’s almost like I can feel what he was feeling when writing this song. It speaks to heartbreak and the unknown future and saying goodbye. Track 13 is a strong piano track that reminds me a lot Ben Folds.
The Last two tracks are bonus tracks added with the rerelease of the album. The first, “Soaker,” isn’t remastered and extremely lo-fi. It has an aesthetic from the 60s that is very slight but wonderful. The lyrics are also perfect. The very last track, “Waiting For You,” is completely different then every other song. It’s a clean, jazzy piano track that is beautiful. It is the good kind of classy music that makes you want to slow dance, drink wine, fall in love, and sway your head whilst under the stars.
This album is incredible and this guy is amazing. Every time I hear the first track begin, I become excited to go on that ride again. His talent impresses me and should impress anyone when they find out how it was made. There’s a lot of respect in the do it yourself ethos and Alex G. is very deserving of that respect.
Recommended if you like: Youth Lagoon, Modest Mouse, Elliot Smith, Built to Spill, Jackson Scott, R. L. Kelly, Coma Cinema, and Ben Fold
Recommended Tracks: “Soaker,” “Rejoyce,” “Serpent is Lord,” “Black Hair,” and “Harvey”
Seriously every freaking song is good. Read the descriptions above to cater to your taste.
Reviewed by Rachel Bennett on October 30, 2014